Staff Spotlight: Mr. Ringer


Jack Bertram

Mr. Ringer and NA’s Comp-Sci program are extremely popular among students.

Jack Bertram, Staff Writer

Every teacher has a unique background. Whether it is a simple series of events or a complex journey, it led them to where they are today. Jonathan Ringer, a computer science teacher at North Allegheny, has a very intricate story of how he ended up here.

Mr. Ringer grew up not too far from NA, in a school called Deer Lakes. He was a fairly good student but was not involved in too many activities.

Baseball was a part of his early high school career, but academics were his main focus at that point, specifically accounting. “I was voted quietest student my senior year. I had friends but I was just not one to talk a lot,” he said. He also noted how it was funny that he became a teacher despite being such a shy person.

Fast forward to college, Mr. Ringer attended Robert Morris University, where he ended up switching majors from accounting to business education. He found that the logic of both majors matched up, making the transition easier. “We had to take one coding class, and at that point, it was either COBOL programming or HTML,” he says.

During that time, there was a dip in the internet and the world wide web, so he chose not to learn HTML and focus on COBOL, which was a programming language for business. “I was a little wrong in terms of the classes I took, but it was my first opportunity to be able to dive into coding,” he says.

He was first hired for a job at West Shamokin High School. “I took the job before I knew what I was going to get,” he mentions. After all, he had to be able to teach HTML I & II classes, Java I & II classes, and visual basic I & II classes.

Since he did not have any experience, it was his most challenging but rewarding year of teaching. “I loved the level of creativity that you can get into in terms of the programs that you can write, the problems that you can solve, and the creative thinking that you can apply,” he says.

After desires to live on his own, Mr. Ringer moved to Philadelphia for a long-term substitute teacher position at Downingtown Area High School. He also took a part-time position at North Penn. “…It was those kinds of short-term experiences that I really enjoyed, and got a lot of good experiences,” he says. Since it was tough to get a full-time position near Philadelphia, he moved back to the western side of the state to get another part-time position at Deer Lakes.

Finally, he was able to get a full-time teaching position at West Shamokin, but the commute was a 45-minute drive each way. “Then, there was this Springdale position that opened up, and the Springdale position was only 15 minutes away from home. So, I really thought I was going to be in Springdale my entire career,” he explains.

Although at that time, the funding for teachers and the value of education went down significantly, so he lost his job at Springdale. The same thing happened when he was hired at Winchester Thurston. He was there for three years and was laid off.

From that, I ended up here at North Allegheny which is someplace that I never thought I would have been if it wasn’t for the journey that I went on.

— Ringer

“From that, I ended up here at North Allegheny which is someplace that I never thought I would have been if it wasn’t for the journey that I went on,” Mr. Ringer explains. Every step of the way had a significant impact on the final destination. He taught keyboarding and basic computer applications at Deer Lakes which helped him earn the West Shamokin position.

The West Shamokin Job sparked his journey into computer science, and the Springdale and Winchester Thurston years helped him teach at higher level courses. “If it wasn’t for those years, I never would have ended up where I currently am,” he says.

Mr. Ringer’s goal as a teacher is to make sure that everyone who comes into the classroom leaves with more knowledge than before. He acknowledges that every student has different prior experiences, so he wants to make sure that they reach a goal that is attainable for them. “I care about my students. I want to make sure that they are learning the material at an appropriate pace so that not only does it impact them now, but also has some impact on their future endeavors,” he says.

If students are on the edge about taking a computer course, Mr. Ringer has some ideas for them to consider. Computer science, as well as coding, teaches concepts like problem-solving and critical thinking. It also gives students an indication of how every app works, and how they are developed.

“I specifically think about, as your future develops, that computer science is going to play a huge role in terms of your success regardless of the discipline that you are going into. Computer science is going to impact it in some way,” he explains.